Congress woos farmers and youth ahead of elections
November 02 2017 12:00 AM
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde attend a programme held to release the party’s manifesto in Shimla yesterday.


The ruling Congress Party in Himachal Pradesh yesterday released its manifesto for the November 9 assembly election, promising interest-free loans to farmers, laptops for students, jobs for youth and special grade pay for all employees.
Releasing the manifesto, Congress leader and Health Minister Kaul Singh said all marginal and small farmers in the state would be extended an interest-free loan of Rs100,000 without following strict conditions.
For fruits growers, 90% subsidy will be provided on anti-hail nets.
For the youth of the hill state, there will be creation of 150,000 government jobs in its five-year term.
He said if the party returned to power, all categories of employees would be granted a special grade pay-scale.
Wages of the labourers employed under the central government-funded Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), would be hiked to Rs350 per day from the existing Rs150, he said.
“We will ask the central government to increase the MGNREGA wages from Rs150 to Rs350. If it does not agree, we will provide the hiked wages from our own resources.” 
Kaul Singh was accompanied by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and former federal minister Sushilkumar Shinde at the manifesto launch here.
“Our manifesto is a golden link in the chain of colossal progress in Himachal. Once again, we embark on this momentous journey #MissionHP2017,” the chief minister said in a tweet.
The Congress government has been distributing 10,000 laptops every year among meritorious students of Class X and XI under the Rajiv Gandhi Digital Students Yojana.
The manifesto promises to provide 35,000 laptops annually to check dropouts from government schools and 15,000 for college students up to graduation.
The minister said the party was in the fray on the basis of its five-year rule that ensured all-around development, with the focus on opening educational and health institutions, especially schools and colleges in far-flung areas, and developing road infrastructure.
The manifesto also promises to put in place a mechanism to monitor corruption cases with the setting up of an anti-corruption grievances commissioner.
It said contractual employees would be regularised in two years in place of five and pensioners would get a substantial hike in pension. It also promised to enhance social security pensions and people above 75 would get Rs1,500 old-age pension.
To woo voters at the grassroots level, the Congress said administrative and financial powers would be decentralised in Panchayati Raj institutions, the village-level third tier of governance, up to panchayats.
For the women, the Congress promised to set up working women hospitals in each of the 12 districts and to raise the marriage grant for daughters of widows to Rs100,000.
For land acquired by the government, a compensation that is four times the market value will be provided.
The votes will be counted on December 18 along with those in Gujarat.
lThe Congress has the highest number of ‘crorepati (multi-millionaires) candidates while the Bharatiya Janata Party has the most with declared criminal cases against them, according to an analysis of the candidates’ affidavits.
The analysis, compiled by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) of self-sworn affidavits of all 338 candidates, shows that 59 out of 68 candidates (87%) from the ruling Congress have declared assets worth more than Rs10mn.
The BJP is a close second with 47 out of its 68 candidates (69%) being crorepatis.
The richest candidate with declared assets worth more than Rs900mn – Balvir Singh Verma from Chopal – is from the BJP, and is followed by Congress’ Vikramaditya Singh from Shimla Rural who has assets worth more than Rs840mn.
Out of the total 338 candidates, 158 (47%) are crorepatis.
In terms of candidates with declared criminal records, the BJP tops the chart with 23 out of its 68 candidates (34%) having criminal cases against them. The Congress is a distant second with just six of its 68 candidates (9%) having criminal cases against them.
In terms of serious criminal cases including murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping against, the BJP again beats the Congress with nine out of 68 (13%) of its candidates with such cases.
The Congress has three out of 68 (4%) candidates with serious criminal cases against them.
One Congress candidate, Ram Kumar, contesting from Doon constituency, has declared case related to murder against him.

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